Unless you’ve been living under the medical rock, then you must have heard about the FDA’s endorsement of the treatment resistant depression medication, Ketamine. The panel went forward to solicit the use of ketamine in the form of nasal sprays for individuals and patients suffering from cases of severe depression. Considering that as reported by the Center for Disease Control, every one in six adults will have had depression at some stage in their lives, this is indeed a step in the right direction. Mental disability as a whole is (however not always), incited by depression and this is seen in the 300 million cases of depression worldwide. However, it’s about time the remedy was endorsed and this article is all about the effectiveness and weaknesses of Ketamine.
This is one of the most innovative drugs in today’s history, however it was well used for other procedures in the 1970s as a sedative, but today, it’s used as a depression remedy. Depression can be caused by multiple scenarios. The death of a loved one, peer pressure, breakups, and lots more. Sometimes something needs to shift from the norm to create such a mental response, other times, it doesn’t need an inciting factor. However, as prevalent as depression is, we cannot forget about its siblings in the form of anxiety, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, and lots of others. Ketamine is an anesthetic, or you could say a ‘calming drug’ which is acting as a mood elevator. It is so effective that patients who suffered severe depression admitted to at least feeling 50 percent better after 40 minutes of infusion. A patient admittedly said that he ‘went from severe depression to no depression symptoms.’ The numbers are great, there’s no disputing that, however there are certain restrictions about Ketamine.
Ketamine Limitations by Experts
Ketamine is very effective no doubt but it comes with an advisory. This being that, apart from being used as an anesthetic for medical procedures, it should only be used on patients suffering from severe depression or treatment resistant depression and as a last resort. In essence, it should not be administered lightly. At least without trying other options first. Presently in the US alone, following the FDA approval, there have been over 3,000 cases of documented Ketamine use for severe depression symptoms in the US and Canada alone.
Dr. Nolan Williams, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences from the Stanford University Medical Center, admitted that there are precise scenarios where Ketamine makes a great deal of sense, and there are others where its role and purpose with respect to what it should be is heavily unclear. He further added that it’s not realistic to think Ketamine will be a treatment for chronic or severe depression forever. Other doctors had their own input about Ketamine. Dr. Robert C. Meisner, the medical director of McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical school affiliate said that in the use of Ketamine, ‘one must balance clinical necessity with clinical uncertainty as well as the availability of other treatments’. Dr. Meisner who is the medical director of the Ketamine Service in the Psychiatric Neuro-Therapeutics Program at the McLean Hospital said this with good cause.
Ketamine, when used as a severe depression remedy, is highly effective and shows a low risk of being addictive or another source of dependency for patients. It is also really useful for patients that self-harm or are at risk of suicide. Ultimately, for the purpose of alleviating severe depression in simple doses, Ketamine is doing just that.
The Way Forward
Ketamine although highly effective comes with certain adverse effects that could either be immediate or after prolonged use. Its immediate side effects include dizziness, high blood pressure, and other dissociative symptoms. However, these effects could be resolved the same day, but for recreational users, when used for long periods and at high doses can lead to bladder, liver and biliary tract complications. Users could even suffer deficits in their cognitive abilities and lastly, the cost of off-label Ketamine treatments are not covered by insurance. In essence, this drug is still under research and to prevent unforeseen health challenges, it should be administered and prescribed by a licensed medical professional.